Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 12:48:00
KUALA LUMPUR: A 73-year-old man claimed he was assaulted by a neighbour at his Pantai Panorama Condominium (PPC) apartment in Bukit Angkasa here on March 3.
Thng Yong Huat, a retired engineer, said it all began when he tried to fix a bathroom leak in his unit with the help of a plumber.
The plumber had to remove the toilet bowl and the bathtub to assess the cause of the leaks. He was accompanied by his neighbour, Rozliza Abdullah, 65, who witnessed the assault.
"Unfortunately, this caused a flooding of two to three inches of soiled water, not just in my condo, but in the unit below, as our pipes are connected."
Thng said the owner of the unit below was enraged.
Rozliza, a part-time real estate agent, said: "That neighbour came to Thng's apartment and started blaming him. The neighbour swung his arm and hit Thng on the neck."
Thng and Rozliza lodged a complaint with the condo's management.
"The PPC management were slow to respond, so I lodged a police report," said Thng.
However, the PPC management met on March 5.
"The management proposed sending technicians to investigate the plumbing problem," said Thng.
Rozliza said: "On the assault, the management asked Thng to 'put things behind us for a better future' and promised to call him if anything else arose."
"When two parties are involved in a conflict, the management is not responsible for any damage," a PPC spokesman said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Pantai Panorama Condominium residents in Bangsar South are hoping City Hall will direct a developer to rebuild a 12.1m tall slope near their housing area and ensure its safety.
Residents' representative Danny Ong said they are concerned about the slope located 9.1m from the perimeter of the condominium.
The retaining wall -- which was meant to support the slope, but left incomplete for the past three years -- was hacked by a developer recently, leaving the slope exposed.
Following complaints on safety from residents, City Hall ordered the developer to submit plans to build a new retaining wall which must be designed by a geotechnical consultant and approved by Ikram.
Last Tuesday, residents were enraged to learn that the developer had carried out works on the slope without consent from City Hall.
A check by the residents with City Hall revealed that the developer had not submitted plans for the work to City Hall.
Met at the site on Saturday, Ong said City Hall had agreed to set up a meeting today to discuss the matter further with the developer.
Residents wanted work on the slope to be halted pending Ikram's approval of the plan before it is submitted to City Hall.
"We hope City Hall will give the developer a deadline to rectify the problem. City Hall should play its part by ensuring the developer completes the task.
"We want the developer to restore the wall and protect it from soil erosion which could weaken the foundation of the slope.
"And we want a competent engineer to certify in a report that the slope is safe," he said.
Ong said the wall was hacked because of correction work on a road it has previously built.
During the site visit, construction workers were seen clearing debris and rubbish and placing tarpaulin sheets on the slope.
A NOTICE board put up recently at Bukit Gasing to call for objections for a proposed high-density residential project on the Kuala Lumpur side has disappeared without a trace.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, who had taken a photo of the board on Friday last week, said the board was gone by Monday.
“The proposal was for two 26-storey condominium blocks comprising 408 units and 18 villas, which would also increase the population density,” she said.
The notice invited landowners and residents to send their objections to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall Town Planning Department by Aug 12.
She said at one of the KL Draft Plan 2020 hearings, she was made to understand that only low-density development would take place in the area that was not gazetted as a green lung.
“This area is known to be landslide-prone since 1971. The proposal is worrying and warrants attention from the authorities,” she said.
She added that Bukit Gasing was one of the last remaining green lungs in Kuala Lumpur and needed to be kept as such.
“Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail mentioned early last month that 130 of the 286 acres of Bukit Gasing owned by the Government would be gazetted as a green lung under the KL Draft Plan 2020,” Nurul Izzah said.
She said there were multiple landowners and developers in Bukit Gasing and the latest proposal that had the residents up in arms was by Langkah Bakti Sdn Bhd.
The MP along with about 70 people from Pantai Panorama, Pantai Hillpark, Friends of Bukit Gasing and residents attended a briefing on Tuesday night given by Bukit Gasing Joint Action Committee chairman and Petaling Jaya city councillor Derek Fernandez.
Nurul Izzah along with the other Kuala Lumpur MPs met the Kuala Lumpur mayor yesterday evening and one of the issues raised was the the proposed project.
When contacted, the developer declined to comment on the issue.
Saving the environment has evolved from just a campaign to a world movement to reduce carbon emission, greenhouse effect and recycling.
Malaysia generates about 22,000 tonnes of garbage per day with Kuala Lumpur alone producing 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes.
According to the Housing and Local Government Ministry, about 7,772,402 tonnes of waste will be generated annually by 2015.
The type of waste generation in Peninsular Malaysia consists of domestic, industrial, construction, public waste and special waste.
Waste management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong, who has dedicated his life to studying “garbage”, believes the best solution to waste management lies at source.
He said separation at source and educating the public were vital.
“Waste can be generated anywhere at any time and people often complain their garbage is not collected.
“Local authorities spend 30% to 40% of their budgets on waste management,” he said.
At least 50% of waste in a household is leftover food and kitchen waste while the rest is plastic and paper.
“Our garbage is our own responsibility and the only way we can ever achieve a higher level of awareness is through education,” he said.
He said the Education Ministry should make more effort in advocating awareness on this matter as well as work together with the Housing and Local Government Ministry.
“Most of the awareness campaigns are carried out by non-governmental organisations.
“Based on my conversation with my Japanese lecturer, it will take another 30 years for Malaysia to achieve the level of waste management like in Japan,” he said.
When asked about the two-bin system that was proposed some time back, Theng said there were some problems with the pilot project.
He said when the bins were placed outside, the garbage men took everything before the truck arrived and there were problems with placing the bins inside.
“We need time to adjust to separation of waste at source and, in this case, the system was not easy to do.
“Even in Japan they have dedicated days for each type of garbage but it also faced problems as people did not want to use transparent bags.
“So it presents a big challenge because you have to develop a system with all the waste management elements,” he said.
The system has to be developed according to the local scenario.
The two-bin ruling is a pilot project which is supposed to start in Kuala Lumpur. Each household will be provided with two bins — one for organic waste and the other for inorganic stuff.
The green bin is for organic waste while the grey is for recyclable waste.
The move is meant to encourage the public to separate their waste at source, hence extending the lifespan of the landfills.
Other problems in waste management are illegal dumping and profit-orientated recycling centres.
Construction and industrial sectors are considered as major contributors as they are not willing to pay a higher price to dispose of their waste at landfills.
This is because a tipping fee has to be paid at landfills, so most opt to hire sub-standard contractors to carry out illegal dumping.
The government had come up with the new Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act (Act 627) in August 2007.
The Act was enacted to allow for centralised and coordinated management of solid waste.
It empowers the minister to publish matters which promote reduction, reuse and recycling of controlled solid waste, including possible mandatory source separation of recyclable materials.
Under the Act, the minister is empowered to establish a possible take-back system and deposit refund system for certain products or goods.
“At the moment it is a free market and whoever offers the cheapest price will get more business.
“There are also many commercial sites that are carrying out illegal dumping.
“As for this Earth Day celebration, green or carbon-free products is all a gimmick,” he said,
He added that commercialisation had taken over the real reason behind the cause.
“Some of these products like biodegradable plastic bags are made from starch and here we have many people starving in the world.
“These brown bags made from recyclable items also take a lot more energy to produce, so at the end of the day it all does not add up,” he said.
Ideally, the focus should be on educating people and doing everything slowly as the mindset of the masses need to change.
Theng said the government was working hard and constantly finding something that could be done in waste management.
IF you think you can escape summonses by parking illegally, obstructing traffic, and littering and what not — think twice.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will soon be beefing up its enforcement team at the 11 parliamentary constituencies in Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said he would be deploying the extra enforcement to the respective areas so the officers could respond quickly to public’s complaints.
Fuad was responding to the call made by Setiawangsa MP Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique who suggested that DBKL set up “Enforcement Units” at parliamentary level.
Towards efficacy: Zulhasnan says having a unit operating at each constituency will help create an effective delivery system.
The mayor said previously each constituency had 10 officers and reported to an inspector — this time more will be added as DBKL had some 1,600 officers and will soon be sent out to the different areas.
When contacted Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng commended the idea saying that it would enable officers to react to complaints faster as the residents could contact the branch office directly instead of going through the headquarters to reach the officers.
Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun and Titiwangsa MP Dr Lo Lo Ghazali, however, felt that having the same officers stationed at one area may lead to corruption.
Zulhasnan mooted the idea last month after receiving numerous complaints from his constituents on illegal hawkers and illegal parking.
He said having an enforcement unit operating at each constituency will help create an effective delivery system for DBKL as officers will report to the DBKL manager at each constituency to help curb problems like illegal hawkers, illegal parking and more.
Zulhasnan said officers can also look into safety issues, sports facilities, natural disasters and other problems concerning the people in line with the goverment’s 1Malaysia: People First, Performance Now motto.
Jeong Chun Phuoc, Lecturer-in-law, Shah Alam
To be considered as a national or a cultural heritage, a tree must fulfil the legal criteria set by the National Heritage Act 2005.
I WOULD like to clarify the legal issues surrounding the cutting down of trees and the unresolved issues raised by Streets columnist ES Tung in his column "Like heritage buildings, old trees need protection, too" (Streets, May 17).
For education purposes, I would like to correct the general public's misunderstanding and misperception of the issue.
Firstly, I will deal with the heritage issue. The National Heritage Act 2005 may be referred to even if it involves old trees. The act grants protection to both "tangible and intangible cultural heritage" in Malaysia.
For such trees to be considered a national heritage or cultural heritage, they must fulfil the "heritage" and/or "cultural heritage" legal criteria set out by the National Heritage Act 2005.
For a tree to qualify for protection under the National Heritage Act 2005, section 6(h) of the act empowers the commissioner, inter alia, "... to advise and co-ordinate with the local planning authority, the council and other bodies and entities at all levels for the purpose of safeguarding, promoting and dealing with any heritage".
Of equal relevance is section 112(1)(e) of the National Heritage Act 2005. It provides that "no person shall, without the approval in writing of the commissioner, clear any area or interfere with, destroy or remove any tree, plant undergrowth, weed, grass or vegetation in any heritage site".
Secondly, with regards to the general administration of trees, the cutting down of trees, and the planting of trees, etc, are as a general rule, governed by the relevant by-laws, regulations, orders, etc, in the respective municipality/local authority jurisdictions and the corresponding relevant state regulations. In this regard, the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 [Act 172] may be used as a useful reference.
In the event of doubt, the public and environmental advocates must refer to the local/state authorities/councils for legal guidance. As a precaution against prosecution in court, the public and the relevant party concerned must not take the law into their own hands.
Sustainable environmental awareness calls for a vigilant public to work hand in hand with the state and Federal Governments to enhance environmental understanding and ensure cohesive cooperation in safeguarding environmental concerns.
An owner holds up two proxy forms that were rejected by the Pantai Panorama Condominium Management Corporation, which barred the proxy holders from attending its annual general meeting on Labour Day.
KUALA LUMPUR: It is not against the law, but is it against the spirit of the law?
|The 13-year-old Pantai Panorama has 708 units with an occupancy rate of over 90 per cent.
While the Strata Titles Act allows owners of land titles to appoint proxies to look after their interests, it does not limit the number of proxy votes a person may hold.
The part of the act which deals with proxies was, ostensibly, created to protect the rights of title owners unable to attend meetings regarding their property.
But the fact that it does not limit the number of proxy votes a person can hold may have been exploited by some with their own agendas.
This is what the residents of Pantai Panorama in Bangsar allegedly faced at the management committee's recent annual general meeting. And, they claim it was not the first time.
The residents said over the past two years, their rights and wishes had been disregarded because of some who held proxy votes for multiple unit owners.
In fact, one man, a real estate agent, held 51 proxy votes.
The residents claimed it was futile for them to table any resolution at the AGM because of the individuals holding a high number of proxy votes.
"The act of 'bulldozing' through proxy votes negates any proposal put forward to improve conditions at the condominium complex," said condominium unit owner S. Nirmal, 57, who has lived at Pantai Panorama for 13 years.
"Most of us obtained our strata titles some four years ago. We were then allowed to elect a management committee to safeguard out interests.
"This turned out only to be a fallacy as certain individuals were allowed to vote in proposals as proxies for unit owners. And due to the amount of proxies held by an individual, other owners have no say on the way the complex is run.
"At the last AGM held on Labour Day, there were 44 registered owners and one person holding 51 proxies.
"The resolutions tabled were simply accepted based on the votes lodged by the proxy holder which outnumbered the rest," he said.
Nirmal said he believed the person had solicited proxy rights from owners who had purchased the units for investment purposes and who do not know of the issues faced by those living here.
"We feel that this is unfair although legal under the Strata Titles Act, 1985 [Act 318] as the act does not stipulate how many proxies a person can hold. This has resulted in abuse of power."
Another owner, who only wanted to be known as Steve, said of the AGM: "It was a waste of time for us to even air our mutual concern to make our homes a better place to live."
He said one of the resolutions put forward by the management committee, pertaining to the painting of five blocks and two buildings for RM1.25 million, was passed because the man with 51 proxy votes chose to support it.
Steve claimed other residents had obtained quotes for the work to be done for under RM900,000, but these were not taken into consideration because the man with the proxy votes had the majority.
It is understood a complaint on the matter has been lodged with the Commissioner of Buildings (COB), which comes under City Hall.
It was learnt from the owners that although the COB sympathises with them, its stand was to follow what was stipulated under the act.
A spokesman from the COB stated that the act does not clearly define the number of proxies allowed to any one person.
Owner Raylene Wong (not her real name) said the committee had not acted in a professional manner.
She was baffled to find that there were two cases where proxies were not accepted by the committee as they claimed that the registered owners who had appointed proxies to represent them had no titles to their units.
"This was absurd as the same owners were acknowledged as rightful owners and allowed to attend the previous AGM."
In response to the issue, Pantai Panorama Condominium Management Corporation council member Danny Ng, said: "It's true that some owners are not happy with the situation. From the point of the corporation, we have to abide by the act and regulations set forth by the COB and in this case, our hands are tied."
On the real estate agent holding 51 proxies, Ng said the man manages units for owners who did not live in Pantai Panorama.
"It's only natural for the agent to cast his votes to safeguard the rights of his clients and it would then be unfair to his clients should he do otherwise," he said.
Asked on the RM1.25 million repainting cost, Ng said it was a budget proposed by a professional quantity surveyor based on the "actual scope of work and materials".
He said the figure was passed as an estimated budget allocation and a transparent open tender process would take place where it was possible that less would be spent.
The 13-year-old Pantai Panorama has 708 units, with an occupancy rate of over 90 per cent. Each owner pays RM150 to RM800 per month in maintenance charges depending on the size of the unit.
THE role and responsibility of a residents’ association, community development, upgrading ones quality of life and public safety are among the topics that will be addressed in a three-day seminar organised by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for residents associations from April 24 to 26 in Port Dickson.
“We hope to engage the residents’ associations in a two-way discussion and enlighten them on their roles in helping to build their respective communities,’’ said Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail.
“We have done this before — but never in such a big scale or an integrated manner.
“We hope to get community leaders involved and get them to provide views and suggestions so that we can work together and improve our working relationship further,’’ he said.
Fuad said he valued the RAs’ contribution towards the society and encouraged more RAs to be established -- the mayor stressed that it must be done properly and by the book.
“The mechanism of setting up an RA, the do’s and dont’s will be addressed at the seminar,’’ he said.
Twelve speakers from the DBKL and government agencies will be on hand to talk on various topics ranging from safety, cleanliness, DBKL’s call centre, NKRA and Public Transportation, Local Plan and others issues.
Speakers include Professor Dr Denison Jayasooria, Zuliana Mohd Akob, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and R. Umesh Kannah.
Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin is scheduled to launch the event on Sunday.
A total of 200 RAs have confirmed their attendance.
CLOSE to 700 people were privy to the launch of the Acacia show unit at the Park Residences Resort Style condominiums at Bangsar South recently.
Khor: This luncheon is to celebrate the early completion of the project.
The guests were privilege card members and existing buyers.
“This luncheon is to celebrate the early completion of the project as well as to allow the existing buyers to view the actual units during the event,” said UOA general manager David Khor.
There are a total of 470 units in two blocks, Acacia and Begonia and 67% have already been sold. During the event, existing buyers brought along friends and family who were interested in the properties as well.
Khor admitted that building a mixed development in Kerinchi was not without its challenges but they persevered in making the place suitable for future buyers.
“When we first embarked on this journey many people questioned our success.
“This place was known for traffic jams and illegal hawker stalls but through careful planning and hard work we changed it into a vibrant development,” he added.
UOA built a hawker centre and with the help of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) relocated the stall owners to the new centre and they also upgraded the LRT station for the people’s convenience.
“Since we share the same postcode as Bangsar, we decided to name this area Bangsar South and DBKL has officially recognised the name,” added Khor.
Prospective buyers: The guests mingling during the luncheon.
During the luncheon, a host of games and entertainment were also arranged. A clown with balloons entertained the children while performances by The Monti and Logi Show as well as David Lai’s magical act blew the crowd away.
A special 6% discount was given to buyers introduced by friends and family while existing buyers who purchased additional units were given an 8% discount during the event.
Members of the public will be able to view the showrooms during the official launch on Sunday.
The starting price for the units measuring 1,260sq ft is RM636,800.
BE prepared to pay RM30 on-the-spot fine if you are caught littering on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
More than 160 individuals were the first group of people who were fined by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Saturday when they were nabbed for littering.
To make things easier for the offenders, DBKL set up temporary booths to enable them to pay their fines immediately.
Showing the way: A DBKL officer escorting a foreigner caught for littering to the payment counter in Jalan Silang.
DBKL enforcement chief Hamzah Sehab said the on-the-spot compound would serve as an effective deterrent as people often disregarded reminders about keeping the city clean.
“We issued 163 compounds to those caught red-handed for littering which is an offence under Section 47(1)(a) of the DBKL Drainage, Road and Building by-laws,” said Hamzah.
He added that the offenders had to settle the RM30 fine within 40 days, failing which the penalty would increase to RM50.
“If the offender does not settle the fine after that, we will issue a reminder stating that we will charge them in court if they do not settle the amount,” said Hamzah.
The operation, which was part of DBKL’s Anti-Litter campaign, saw mostly youths and foreigners caught in the act of discarding cigarrete butts, empty cans and used tissue on the streets and pavements.
More than 40 DBKL enforcement officers were involved in the operation that was conducted around Jalan Silang and Jalan Sultan Mohamed near the Klang bus station.
Trader Sefri Edi Yansha, 24, said the action by DBKL against litterbugs was timely and would help keep the city clean.
“Why is it so difficult for these people to throw rubbish into the garbage bins. Jalan Silang is often filled with cigarette butts, drink cans and food wrappers,” she added.
SLOPEWATCH, a programme run by residents of Bukit Antarabangsa to monitor slopes in their area, is gaining popularity.
Communities from as far as Sabah are asking the residents for advice on starting up their own programmes.
Programme chairman Abdul Razak Bahrom said although SlopeWatch started in May 2009, it was only this year that the programme really picked up its pace following Ampang Jaya Municipal Council’s (MPAJ) involvement.
“We are now in the midst of coming up with a standard operating procedure with MPAJ on the steps to report slope-related problems,” Abdul Razak said in a press conference after MPAJ donated RM3,000 to SlopeWatch for its activities like exhibitions and awareness programmes.
SlopeWatch is a programme under the Coalition of Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Association (CoBARA). On an average they receive two calls a week by residents who noticed problems in their area.
“We visit the problematic site after the call, get the details and report it to the authorities. The usual problems are broken drains and water gushing out of unexpected locations such as holes in the ground,” Abdul Razak said.
CoBARA chairman Shahrul Hafiz Teh Abdullah said that MPAJ already have a standard set of procedures when dealing with such problems and SlopeWatch’s procedures will be in sync with theirs.
“The procedures we are setting up will also contain standards for respond time, period for action taken and such. All will be in line with MPAJ’s existing procedures,” Shahrul said.
Shahrul said the procedures and right mechanism need to be made public so people will know what to do when caught in such a situation.
Hesaid currently CoBARA represents about 4,500 residents from eight out of the 17 housing estates in Bukit Antarabangsa.
“Those who are running it now are all volunteers and residents of Bukit Antarabangsa. Sometimes we are unable to take immediate response when we receive a call because we are busy with our own lives. So we need more people to be a part of the programme,” Shahrul said.
MPAJ president Datuk Mohammad Yacob said that SlopeWatch was to be recommended and encouraged other communities to start such a programme.
“They are our eyes and ears. We currently have 10 officers monitoring slopes in Ampang but SlopeWatch makes us able to respond that much faster before anything bad happens. We never know when a disaster will strike,” Mohammad said, adding that there were lots of hilly areas in Ampang including Melawati and Bukit Cheras.
DATUK AHMAD FUAD ISMAIL, Kuala Lumpur
Some people say that an effective local authority concerns and confines itself to tackling the basic needs of its residents such as providing rubbish disposal services, ensuring cleanliness is maintained and that potholes are repaired.
Being unable to handle these basic needs would mean that the local authority is far from ready to take on bigger issues.
Delivering services to the public is no easy matter, hence the local authority needs to have a proper monitoring system in place which will outline the scope of work, monitor its implementation and gauge the impact of its service.
At Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), one way of doing this is via its 24-hour call centre.
We try to ensure that problems directed to the centre are resolved within three days and that the service providers carry out their jobs efficiently and effectively.
For instance, we will start a system where we will recruit contractors via an open tender system, say to fix potholes. This is to encourage healthy competition among the contractors and to bid for the best price.
As for the city centre area — our own people will do the job so that when things go wrong we have no one else to blame but ourselves.
Needless to say the call centre has proven to be successful in solving city residents’ numerous complaints.
As 80% of the complaints lodged with the centre can be classified as ‘basic’ — City Hall can be viewed as tackling and handling the basic needs of KL-ites effectively.
And I am happy to report that the rate of complaints solved is about 70% and rising.
As one of the largest local authorities in Malaysia, DBKL also has a responsibility and a commitment to run the city in a manner that promotes conservation, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices.
We have started the greening of Kuala Lumpur by planting more trees in the city.
In fact, in conjunction with National Landscape Day which fell on March 3, DBKL planted some 12,060 trees in various parts of the city recently.
We have also started green projects such as the green linkage system that involves connecting rivers, lakes, parks, gardens, public walkways, malls and office buildings with greenery like trees or shrubs to reduce the level of trapped heat and greenhouse gases.
In Kuala Lumpur, 30% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from households and buildings.
Development absorbs 40% of the earth’s natural resources, commercial buildings consume more than 50% of the city’s electricity and not to mention a large amount of water too.
KL’s gridlock also costs the city millions of ringgit each day.
Subsequently, the compounding challenges of living in a city begin to become part of a city dweller’s routine.
The city will not be sustainable in all facets. As trees are felled, buildings and roads constructed, global warming becomes a reality, KL will be filled with more CO2 and it will get hotter.
The indiscriminate dumping of waste and illegal dumping further compromises the environment when leachate from waste seeps into soil and poisons our rivers and its ecology causing irreversible long- term damage.
Our future plans include recycling, composting, harvesting rain water, using energy-saving technology and promoting green buildings.
Of course, we have a long way to go towards transforming Kuala Lumpur into an environment- friendly city, but DBKL is committed in our greening efforts.
The city of Kuala Lumpur has great promise and is well positioned for bigger and better things.
DBKL needs to optimise its resources judiciously in tackling the basic needs of city residents and also the important larger issues like keeping the city sustainable and ultimately improving the quality of life.
When my neighbourhood in SS2, Petaling Jaya, initiated guarded service recently, I was one of those who decided to wait before opting to join the scheme.
I wanted to see whether the security company would place barricades and block the access roads to make their work easier in monitoring the neighbourhood.
I am not in favour of such a move because placing permanent structures at some of the inner roads would lead to unnecessary congestion on the artery roads.
There are valid reasons why housing developers are required to build inner roads and one of them is to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the neighbourhood especially during peak hours in the morning and evening.
For the first few days when the guarded scheme was implemented in my neighbourhood, there were many near misses as motorists, especially those who don’t live in the area were caught unawares by the sudden closure of the inner roads.
A mother who was taking her usual route to drop off her toddler son at a babysitter’s home in the vicinity almost knocked into my car when she was forced to reverse as a result of the inner road suddenly being blocked by empty oil drums.
There are also residents, especially those living in the corner and end lots, who use part of the inner roads to park their vehicles. Now that these inner roads are barricaded, they are not utilised and have become no man’s land.
Another reason why I did not sign up for the guarded scheme was the mode of payment. Households are required to pay for the security scheme upfront for six months. Thus if the monthly security fee is RM50, the residents are required to pay RM300 to cover six months of security service and later another RM300 for the remaining six months.
I find the payment scheme lopsided in favour of the security company. What if the security company winds up due to unforseen circumstances, surely we as customers will be at the losing end.
A few days ago on my way home in the afternoon, I noticed a man walking about and behaving suspiciously in the area. Upon sensing that I was observing him, he walked in the opposite direction.
I drove off but decided to turn back and alert the guards. True enough, along the way I spotted the guy was checking out a house which had its front gate ajar.
Two of the guards got onto a motorcycle and started to look for the “intruder”. Alas, they were not going to find him, simply because they were looking for him on a different road!
The next day, three vehicles in my row of houses, including mine, had scratch marks on the door.
Whether this was the price my neighbours and I had to pay for not joining the guarded scheme is anybody’s guess, but the fact remains that our cars were damaged in broad daylight despite having guards patrolling the area.
Residents associations (RAs) must realise that guarded schemes are not without flaws. First you need a reputable security company which has capable guards to carry out the task of providing security in the neighbourhood.
You cannot just employ foreign workers, retirees or jobless youths from the outskirts and expect them to do a great job in overseeing the neighbourhood’s security.
RAs also cannot do as they please in the name of ensuring security in the neighbourhood. Barricading public roads and giving second-class treatment to those who opt not to join the scheme will divide instead of unite the neighbourhood.
The way forward for neighbourhood safety is community policing by the stakeholders.
So long as I am healthy and fit, I am more than prepared to take turns to patrol the neighbourhood at night so that others, including my family members, can have a good night’s sleep.
What about you, folks. Will you grab a baton and torch and join me in keeping the burglars and thieves far, far away?
CAN a Joint Management Body (JMB) restrict the number of occupants living in a condominium or apartment unit? Or is it illegal for them to do so despite what the JMB says it is looking into the interest and welfare of other owners at large?
Last month, the issue became contentious between two parties of the Le Chateau 2 condominium in Taman Seputeh - the JMB and a college.
Both were at loggerheads over the number of people allowed to stay in a unit, when the JMB imposed its in-house ruling of limiting just five people per household as decided during its annual general meeting (AGM) last year.
In discussion: This filepic shows the college representative Maran (facing camera, second from right) talking to some of the JMB members and residents.
That ruling did not go down well with the college which is renting some of the units of the condominium for its students, and had placed between eight and 10 students per unit.
The JMB said the policy was introduced following issues like overcrowding, noise, and misbehaving of the students while the college management demanded that such in-house ruling cannot override the tenancy agreement which was signed in 2006, and that they even have authorities’ approval on this.
Based on this case study, StarMetro spoke to some other parties who gave mixed views.
An apartment JMB president in Subang Jaya Lim Ai Yim, thinks there is a need to control the number of people in condominiums or apartments because they would inevitably turn into student hostels or hostel for factory workers.
“In my place, too, we’ve got about 30 units per block that have been rented out to factory workers, in different floors.
“In one instance, a unit had between 17 and 20 people, and because they work two shifts, you cannot detect them.
“The college had signed a contract with the developer but this was not made known to our residents association then.
“When you have large groups of students or workers, there is a tendency of facilities being monopolised and whatever damages done are repaired using our own JMB maintenance fund,” said Lim.
She said there was no reason why house rules could not be changed, subjected to JMB as per requirements as certain policies could not stay on forever since there would be issues cropping up from time to time.
“It is not healthy for condo or apartment units to be turned into hostels because ideally, three rooms can accommodate just six people or four rooms eight.
“But JMB has no right to impose that limitation on immediate family members,” said Lim.
She added that such in-house ruling should be carried out properly and with consultation like calling for an AGM to see if there were objections because disputes could arise in future and the unit owner could sue the JMB.
Another JMB chairman of a condominium in SS2, Petaling Jaya, who wanted to be known as just Ng, said the restriction of tenants was a way of taking care of the overall welfare of owners.
“In our case, too, the developer did sign a contract with a college whereby five units was rented out to more than 30 students, but we later set our own ruling to stop that.
“When you have more tenants, the wear and tear in common areas increases and that’s when it eats into our JMB maintenance funds.
“It’s a case of when companies or colleges just want to save cost hence putting so many people in one unit,” he said.
“But of course if it’s a big family consisting of immediate family members, we don’t have such restrictions.”
He said it was not illegal for the JMB to have such a ruling, claiming that there was such a bylaw that provided for the management committee (MC) to follow, but the other party (college or company) had to be informed of the policy first.
The Le Chateau 2 JMB chairman, Foong Chin Fee, reiterated that his committee had been vested with the power by the Commissioner of Buildings (CoB) to implement such house rules within their own fenced property.
“I don’t think we are doing anything illegal, as we have sought legal advice and know of other condos elsewhere imposing similar policies.
“The CoB is well aware of our action as we have deposited a copy of our ruling with them,” he said.
The Housing and Local Government Ministry, when contacted, said under Act 63, the JMB has the right to impose house rules for proper management and maintenance of the building as long as they are not contradictory to existing national laws.
When asked about the aforementioned case, a source said it was not a straight-forward thing to tackle as students were under the jurisdiction of the Higher Education Ministry, and for factory workers, the Human Resource Ministry. The guidelines should probably come from them.
“There are two different interests to look at here — one being business (as with the college), and the other being the residents or owners themselves.
“We have to see if the contract signed is in line with the status of land ownership which the building sits on, whether it is commercial (service apartment) or residential,” the source said.
The National Housebuyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong, when contacted, said JMB could not simply impose any limitation to its whims and fancies as any house rules must conform with existing laws.
“Under the Building and Common Property Act, whatever house rules cannot intervene with existing local council laws, and must be consistent with their bylaws as local authorities will have taken into consideration issues like noise and so on,” Chang said.
Local government expert Derek Fernandez said under the Local Government Act 1976, the minimum requirement for living space is 350 cubic ftt per person, and this is applicable across all local authorities.
“The JMB cannot infringe the rights of property owners restricting the number of occupants as long as the above minimum space under the Act is adhered to.
“The onus is for both parties - the college and the JMB in this case - to adhere to this 350 cubic feet policy,” he said.
THE residents of the 40-year-old Kampung Kerinchi flats in Pantai have chosen Suez Domain Sdn Bhd to develop the flats in Pantai Dalam.
A total of 369 residents voted to choose the developer they wanted to develop their homes and the vote counting was carried out in a transparent manner in front of the residents yesterday.
A total of 177 residents chose Suez Domain while 120 votes went to UDA Holdings Berhad, 46 picked MAHA Development and two voted for Puncak Seputih. There were 24 spoilt votes.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin said the voting was done in an open manner to dispel any allegation of political inteference.
“The people have chosen and 90% have decided on Suez Domain,” Nong Chik said.
“Everything went smoothly and it is the first time that the Government has used this method to help the poor people,” Nong Chik said.
Nong Chik said since the method worked well in Kerinchi, the same formula might be used in other areas in the city like Kampung Baru and Jinjang.
Kampung Kerinchi Residents Association chairman Ahmad Rahman said he was happy with the decision made by the residents as Suez Domain offered the best package compared with the other developers.
THE Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin said the owners and tenants of One Bangsar are entitled to legal redress if they feel there is any wrongdoing in the decision made by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) not to renew their lease.
“Everyone has a right to sue. But in this case the lease was for five years and when the mayor briefed me that he was not going to renew it, I endorsed that decision,’’ Nong Chik said.
Nong Chik said when the owners and tenants signed the agreement, they were well aware of the terms and conditions.
Time out: After five years in business One Bangsar is set to close.
“When you invest in any business venture you should know everything about that business before getting into it. If there is any legal wrongdoing then of course they have the right to adress that,’’ he added.
The minister stressed that the decision was made based on the residents feedback and that it was in line with the call by the government of putting people first.
One Bangsar is challenging the validity of the decision by the DBKL not to renew their five-year lease which expired in December last year.
In an email to StarMetro, it said: ‘‘One Bangsar and its tenants have thus appointed Messrs. Tommy Thomas, Advocates and Solicitors, to act for them. We have challenged the validity of the decision of DBKL in legal proceedings just filed. Our lawyers have advised that we have a strong case.’’
KL mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said he was merely keeping his promise to the residents that he would not renew the lease when it expired following complaints by residents of the area’s commercial activities.
The business operators had been given six months to vacate and look for alternatives.
When contacted, One Bangsar said they had yet to receive any notice from the DBKL.
THE recent fires, both small and big, at high-rise condominiums and apartments that have caused death show that fire safety measures are very important and although Malaysian fire safety requirements are top notch, these have to be properly maintained to be fully effective.
Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department (WPKLFRD) assistant director Abd Halim Mohammad Jadi said the Uniform Building by-laws 1984 were used to set each building’s fire safety requirements.
“This law is adopted from Britain and is comparable to those from the United States and even Japan. However, without proper maintenance all the requirements, no matter how good, will not be effective,” Abd Halim said.
Routine check: Shuhaimi (right) and Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department officer Mohd Rahimi Ismail checking the air flow into the fire bunker area where the air pressure is high during fires to prevent smoke from entering the area where fire fighters start fighting fires.
He added that vandalism of fire safety components was preventing the full effect of the system to come into play when required.
Fire safety starts from the time of construction of any building as any proposed architectural plan has to have a fire safety system.
Different plans may require different systems and set of conditions and requirements as given by the Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (MFRD) based on the building use, height, basement and others as stated in the by-laws.
Among the information required that should be marked on the plan are fire hydrants, entrances, fixed foam monitors, if any, and other details.
The plans should also indicate passive or architectural protection such as fire resistance doors, roller shutters, compartment walls, fire-fighting lobbies, staircases. fire engine access and fire lifts.
Lastly, the plan should also show fire warnings and active or mechanical and electrical protection such as the location of fire alarm buttons, wet or dry risers, hose reel and others.
In order: Shuhaimi (left) checking the pressure gauge as fire contractor and company supervisor Kong Koy Chuen (right) manipulates the pumps that pushes the water through the pipes throughout the building for the sprinkler system as well as the hose reels located within a high-rise building during a fire safety inspection.
Among the conditions that need to be met before project inspections are carried out are getting approval from the Fire Department on the architectural as well as mechanical and electrical plans, connecting fire hydrants to the Water Supply Department’s main pipe, having power supply or generator and having all other fire safety conditions fulfilled depending on the project.
Once the inspection is complete, the inspection officer will prepare a report that will be presented to the director along with the full, partial or temporary support letter which will also state any action needed to be taken before the support letter for a CF can be issued.
Subsequent checks will be conducted by the officers until all the fire safety requirements are fully met.
According to MFRD corporate communications head Morni Mamat, only buildings listed under the category of designated premises will be checked every year to get the fire certificate according to the Bomba Services Act 1988.
“At this time, residential buildings are not listed under that category and therefore there are no requirements for these to be checked after the buildings have been issued a CF,” Morni said.
According to Abd Halim, fire contractors can be hired to do the checks and maintenance of the fire safety system of residential properties.
“There are various fire contractors who have been given the certification by the FRD to perform such jobs and it is up to the residents or their management to check if they are qualified for it,” he said.
Fire extinguishers, part of the fire safety system, also need to be renewed yearly, said Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department senior assistant fire department enforcer Shuhaimi Mahmood.
“This is because the contents of the extinguishers will start to compress after a year and may not be as effective when used from that point onwards,” Shuhaimi said.
A receipt will be issued by the fire stations referred to for each serviced extinguisher and this costs RM5.
The receipt is issued when the owner of the fire extinguisher or the fire extinguisher maintenance company brings the extinguisher along with a form filled by the owner that verifies the servicing of the extinguisher to the fire department.
Morni said checks on fire safety at high-rise residential properties were made at random intervals from time to time.
“The checks are usually done when we receive a complaint from the residents or their association regarding faulty fire safety equipment or blockage at the safety passage,” Morni said, adding that no special charges were needed for the checks.
He said action was taken under the Bomba Services Act 1988 and among the common problems were vandalism, misused hose reels and staircases blocked by various items including old furniture.
Abd Halim said for high-rise residential buildings, the responsibility of maintaining the fire safety system and all its components, facilities and equipment fell on the management team.
“However, these days it is getting harder to tell who should be held responsible. Issuing notices is becoming harder for us because of this,” Abd Halim said.
Shuhaimi said it was necessary to lodge a report with the nearest fire station for all fires regardless of the cause.
“This is so we can conduct checks and investigate. “Insurance claims also need to be accompanied by a letter issued by us based on the checks conducted,” Shuhaimi said.
The fire department hotline for nationwide is 999.
THE taxi associations say they have seen positive results in drivers’ attitudes since the new rulings were introduced.
According to the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor’s Taxi Drivers’ Welfare Association’s S. Augustine, a survey showed that 70% of the drivers had started using the meter.
“Since the guidelines were introduced, members of the public have become more aware of their rights and insist the drivers use the meter,” he said.
When asked for the reason behind those who didn’t use the meter, Augustine said many of the drivers were forced to pay a hefty monthly rental to their companies.
“These people have no benefits as most of it goes to their company and the company makes the profit. This is why they resort to fixing the rates,” he added.
Augustine believed the problem could be solved if more individual permits were given out. He said by doing so, they would only have to pay RM400 a month to the banks.
“Their costs would be reduced to only 50% and that would give them more leverage in the matter. This would definitely reduce the number of taxi drivers who do not use the meter,” Augustine said.
Meanwhile, CVLB director Datin Naimah Ramli said the number of complaints under the CVLB Act 334 had increased from 171 in Nov to Dec 2009 to 190 from Jan to Feb 2010. The offences carry a maximum fine of RM300.
“There has been an 11% increase but this could be because many passengers are excited about the campaign and are eager to play a part now,” Naimah added.
However, she said it was still too early to determine if the campaign was working.
“We are carrying out on-going operations but the people’s feedback is important. We urge members of the public to come forward and lodge their complaints,” Naimah said.
She said the public could not rely on CVLB officers alone as one officer sometimes had to keep track of 100 taxi drivers.
“We do not divulge informants details so the public need not worry. They should also play a role in this.
“We have 31,000 taxis in operation and we can’t keep tabs on all of them at the same time,” she added.
Among the list of common offences are:
1. Not using the meter
2. Extra charges above metered rates
3. Haggling for fares
4. Refusing to take passengers to desired destination
5. Using longer, more time-consuming routes to passengers’ desired destination.
TAXIS in Kuala Lumpur have begun sporting big ‘No Haggling’ stickers on the sides of their doors as part of new rulings imposed by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).
The rulings, which are aimed at improving the services of taxis, also include the mandatory issuance of receipts to all passengers and list down a variety of compoundable offences.
The move comes after complaints continued to flow that taxi drivers were fleecing customers in spite of a hike in metered fares.
A StarMetro team recently took to the streets to see if the new rulings have had any effect on the situation.
Tightening the reins: Under the new rules, taxi drivers will no longer be able to turn away customers and they are also required to provide receipts for fares tabulated by the meters.
Four out of six taxis we hopped into used the meter without being asked to and the drivers insisted that they had always done so.
Our journey began at Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, where we hopped into a taxi to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) station in Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.
The cab was driven by Ng Hong Foh, 62, who has been driving his taxi for five years.
“Some of the other drivers used to reprimand me for using the meter but I would not feel that I’ve earned an honest wage if I cheated my passengers,” Ng said.
Ng paid RM8 for the ‘No Haggling’ stickers outside his door and another RM8 for the list of offences.
From the KTMB station, we ventured to Bukit Bintang and proceeded to KLCC from there. Both these areas are hotspots noted for price-y taxi fares but, this time around, the drivers also used the meter.
Our joy was shortlived when we met a driver Muru (not his real name) who charged us a flat rate of RM15 to Petaling Street despite sporting the ‘No Haggling’ sign.
Muru was parked along the road and insisted that all the taxis charged the same rate or perhaps higher.
“I’m charging you a cheaper rate, the others would probably charge you RM20 or more,” he claimed.
According to him, he is left with little choice as the monthly payment and maintenance of a rented taxi costs about RM1,500.
“Those who have their own taxis can afford to use the meter but people like us have to make ends meet,” Muru said.
To make matters worse, he said he would be returning empty-handed from Petaling Street as there was an alleged turf barrier.
He claimed that some taxi drivers had conquered certain locations within the city and other taxis were not allowed to poach passengers.
At the Chempaka LRT station, a group of taxi drivers had banded together in an attempt to rake in unreasonable profits by ignoring the meters.
The drivers divide passengers among themselves based on their destinations. One taxi driver charged RM4 per head for three people to a destination where the metered rate would cost RM4.50.
RESIDENTS Associations (RA) in the Klang Valley are trapped in a Catch-22 with regard to the guarded and gated community schemes implemented in many neighbourhoods to curb crime.
Many are aware of the legal ramifications as they know that under the law, they have no power to block public roads but they feel they have no choice but to turn a blind eye and go ahead with the scheme.
Also the proposed guideline by the Housing and Local Government Ministry that RAs must get the 100% consent from residents before they are allowed to implement the scheme has got many of them riled up.
Medan Damansara Residents Association committee member Randir Singh said the 100% requirment as proposed by the ministry was “down right ridiculous.”
No through road: According to the two Acts, barricading public roads like in the picture is illegal and those doing so may even be arrested.
“It is impossible to get everyone to agree on this but we have done it because there is a demand for it.
“We know that it is against the law, but we have followed all the rules and we have done everything right and the crime rate has dropped in our neighbourhood,” he said.
“We are catering to the majority. The government and the police are not able to help us so we are helping them to do their jobs,” Randir said.
Taman Mayang RA chairman Liew Wei Beng said he had no choice but to implement the guarded scheme in his neighbourhood as he was more afraid of the criminals than the courts.
“No one wants to live in a barricaded community, but we have to protect ourselves. If I take out all the barriers today, tomorrow the crime rate will go up,” Liew said.
Liew suggested that the ministry come up with a workable percentage. He felt that 100% consent was ridiculous.
“A simple majority of 51% is a more reasonable number,” he added.
Speaking on the legality issue, TTDI RA president Datuk Abdul Latif Mohd Som said that RAs were also liable if any accidents were to happen as a direct result of the roads being obstructed.
“Morally, we want to support them (the residents) but we cannot take the law into our own hands as we (the office bearers) are the ones who will be sued,” Abdul Latif said.
Under the law, two Acts of Parliament — the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 (Act 133) and the Road Transport Act 1987 — directly prohibit any restriction of access to any public road by a private individual or RA.
This makes every barrier, boom gate, guard house, fence and steel drum put up by RAs to obstruct public roads illegal.
The Acts also say that those guilty of doing so may be arrested without warrant by any police officer or employee of the local authority authorised in writing by the local authority and taken before a magistrate’s court and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding RM500 and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding RM1,000.
“In TTDI, we cautioned the residents of the legal implications but they still went ahead and implemented the scheme. We empathise with the residents as security is a legitimate concern.
“We are trapped in a Catch-22. If we don’t support them, the neighbourhood will not be safe but if we give our support, we are breaking the law,” he said.
Taman Bukit Maluri Houseowners and Residents Association treasurer See Beng Loo agreed that RAs were stuck in a dilemma.
“We have seven security committees and two RAs here and since the guarded neighbourhood scheme was implemented about three years ago there has been a reduction in crime. Legal problems aside, we want peace of mind,” See said.
Most RAs also agreed that a solution must be found before the matter gets out of hand and that the answer may lie amending the said Acts in Parliament.
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